IMPORTANT POINTS TO ASK WHEN BUYING A USED GUITAR .
FIRST of all, what type of music will you enjoy playing? How much money can you afford? If you are a beginning guitarist, you may want to buy an intermediate priced guitar that will serve you well...but won't break the bank to afford. Don't start with a real cheap guitar (under $100.00 , for example) since a cheaper guitar will give you cheaper results . There are many nice 1980's models out there that ,if taken good care of, will give you good sound for your bucks. I have seen many 1960's era Japanese guitars showing up on eBay. Many are getting high bids. I don't understand why. Most of them have tinny sounding and looking pick ups and the wiring is the cheap wires that they put in the old transistor radios back then. It is smart to stay with more modern guitars of the last 25 years. Korea and Japan put out some fine guitars lately. I would prefer American made, but they are ridiculously expensive. Some guitars cost as much as a high grade amplifier and bottom. I think it has gotten ridiculous. The American guitar makers are pricing themselves right out of the market, while less costly imports....that are made just as well....are gaining popularity. A standard strat type guitar with 3 pickups will cover just about any music playing except jazz. The strat type is great for rock, alternative,blues,pop, and country music.Jazz usually incorporates a larger ,hollow body electric for its mellow tone. On second thought, I have a Zoom modeler pedal...and with the right tweaking...my strats could sound like a mellow jazz guitar. Personally, I love the guitars with 2 humbuckers and a single coil arrangement. Add a phase switch, and you have a very versatile tone/ rock/ thrash machine. When buying a used guitar, there are several questions you should ask before committing. Do you have a strong enough back to use a heavier guitar or bass? Believe me, many basses are sold because they just become too heavy at a 3 or 4 hour gig. I have 3 basses. My favorite is a violin hollowbody from the 70's. Light but sturdy and bassy. My 2 regular rock basses have slightly smaller bodies than normal and it makes a difference. Over the years, certain guitar parts wear out. The string guide nut grooves can wear through from the string tension. Are the strings buzzing against the first fret when plucked? Is the neck to body joint solid and tight or are there wood cracks? The guitar will not stay in tune with any deep wood cracks in this area. This hairline cracks in the paint finish only happens often with age and neck joint stress. These usually do not affect the rigidity of the neck . How are the frets? If the guitar has been well played over the years, the frets may be worn down too far to be playable and replacements may be very costly. I have seen new imports from China with crooked frets...avoid at all costs. Is the neck straight with a solid truss rod inside? A broken truss rod renders the neck subject to wood warping. It would become useless. To check it...hold the guitar by the lower neck and body edge and shake it well. If you feel and hear a rattle in the neck area...do not buy it.....unless you don't mind buying and replacing a new neck. Many older and less pricey guitars have cheap tuning gears that tend to slip and lose tension over time. Some tuning keys on these are actually hollow. If the tuning gears are loose ,they will cause strings to go out of tune often. I prefer to replace all old tuners with moderm ones that have a stem nut to lock the tuner peg to the wood hole area. Even better , is the use of a string lock nut at the first fret. These are used on guitars with whammy systems to keep the tension off the tuners and help keep the strings in tune. On these, you fine tune your guitar at the bridge whammy with fine tuner knobs , not the headstock. Speaking of whammys, I have found that placing rusty guitar parts in WD -40 for a couple days, really makes them look newer again. Rust flakes off. Check the adjustments on string saddles. Can they be raised and lowered or are they stripped or frozen from rust? If so, These will all need replaced or soaked and cleaned. If there is a pickguard, are there any screws missing or replaced? This could indicate that someone has possibly removed it and worked on the electric circuits. This could be good or bad , depending on who did it. When the unit is plugged in, does it hum or is the sound clear? A hum is usually a bad ground wire at the plug, pickup or pots. Do the controls work quietly or are there scratchy and popping sounds through the amplifier? I have cleaned many volume and tone pots by using an alcohol based electronic cleaning spray . The best have a tiny straw that fits on the nozzle. It will get your cleaner into the tiny openings in the pots and onto the selector switch contacts. Do all the pickups work when selected individually? You can check this when strings are gone by tapping on each pickup as you switch the selector switch. Note: I have learned not to be anxious about buying any guitar that has no strings on it. There usually is a reason...warped neck, non adjustable saddles, or bad frets. Beware. Make sure you ALWAYS plug an electric guitar in before accepting that it is a good buy. If someone on eBay says ," I do not have any way to check out the electronics on this guitar.." Do not buy it..they can go to any guitar store and plug it in to test it...if they really want to sell it. Besides, why would they want to sell a guitar if they don't even know if it works? How do you put a price on that? If the body of the guitar is clean and without any dents, scrapes, or chips...and all screws and hardware parts are tightened down.....chances are the previous owner took care of it and the electronics will work well,also. We have collected well over 100 guitars and I learned , by trial and error, that a really great looking guitar...may not necessarily be a good working or playing guitar. It depends solely on who owned it. Sometimes it just takes a drop of solder on a wire connection, or replacing a set of tuners , or string nut. Voila! It becomes a working guitar. Now go buy that guitar............ and practice,practice,practice.